Struff On ATP Cup: 'I Think It’s Going To Be Really Great'
Jan-Lennard Struff enjoyed the best season of his career in 2019, climbing to a career-high No. 33 in the ATP Rankings, reaching two ATP Tour semi-finals and earning five wins against Top 10 opponents.
The 29-year-old will hope to carry that momentum into 2020, beginning the new season at the inaugural ATP Cup. Struff is Germany’s No. 2 singles player, and he will hope to help his country advance out of Group F, which also consists of Greece, Canada and Australia. Struff speaks to ATPTour.com about his German idols growing up, what makes competing on a team special, and more.
Which countrymen did you watch growing up and what did you admire about them?
A lot of players: Tommy Haas, Nicolas Kiefer, really a lot of them. Those are the two biggest names, I would say. I liked the way they played, I liked the style they played.
Tommy was an inspiration for me. When I played him in Munich and in Kitzbuhel it was unreal to play him. It was just crazy because he played his last match against me in Kitzbuhel. Obviously I liked his intensity on court and the way he hit the ball. It was just unreal, I really loved that.
What are your early memories of playing tennis in your home country?
I started playing with my parents, who were both tennis coaches. I really enjoyed playing. When I was a small kid, I always loved to go out and I played soccer, as well.
I just loved to do something with my friends, playing the sport and travelling with some guys from my practice group. We just had a fun time, playing club matches in the youth area, under 12, under 14, like four guys. We are very good friends and we were just enjoying the matches and practice sessions together.
Of course I watched so many Grand Slams on TV, it was unreal. When I was in school, the Australian Open was on TV. They started at 1 in the morning. I was waking up at 5 or 6 with my mom, watching interesting matches.
What do you think will be the most fun part of playing on a team?
I love to be part of a team. It’s an honour to play for my country. I’ve always dreamed about that. When I first listened to the national anthem when I was playing [for Germany] I had goosebumps. I was just tight. Everyone is tight playing for their country for the first time. I had an amazing match. It’s unreal.
We [spend] most of our time on Tour playing for ourselves. We have a team with our coaches and a physio and a fitness coach, and we kind of play for them as well, for our team. But to play with other players is just a great feeling.... The ATP Cup, the new event, I think will be really good.
What makes you excited about it?
It’s something new. It’s a new event and it’s in Australia. Australia is good for tennis. [It is] such a nice time always in December going to Australia and playing the Australian Open.
I think that this event at the beginning of the year will be a great kick-off, start of the year. Playing a team event is just exciting because you don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I think it’s going to be really great.
If you could take one stroke from any one of your countrymen, what would it be?
I would take the backhand of Zverev. It’s so consistent. He plays so well from the baseline and his backhand is outrageous.
What is the best practical joke a compatriot has played on you?
We do some fun things when we’re on a team. In Australia... we went to an escape room together and did some great stuff to make good team-building. We don’t take it too seriously on the team. I think everyone is just sometimes [making] a joke for themselves.
What are three things you love most about your country?
It’s very tough to pick three, not the weather, though. I really like the stability of the rules system in Germany. I enjoy the people a lot. I like to see my family and I like driving fast cars. That’s one of the big things on the Autobahn! That’s one of the good things we have in Germany. I’m very proud of our country and I think we have good rules.